Review: Metallica NEC, Birmingham
Wednesday 09 October 1996
It's a question that has clearly vexed Metallica, who have suddenly become the biggest in the business (haven't you noticed that their T-shirts are the leisure wear du jour of angry 11- to 18-year-olds?). In an effort to jazz up the staid conventions of live metal, the band have cut their hair. Almost as drastically, they rearranged the Birmingham NEC for the start of their UK tour last weekend. The main floor was largely given over to a figure of eight into which were set two sprawling stages. Around each stage stood a forest of lighting rigs, shaped like scorpions' tails, which occasionally arched over the band as if closing in for the kill.
Oh yes, the band. Let's not forget them. For as they strove to give their gargantuan songs an appropriate physical form, there was always the possibility that they might be consumed by their own ingenuity. Things did, indeed, look a bit desperate as it became clear that the twin-stage situation had doubled rather than minimised the old problem of what, if anything, a band should do while playing. Now there were two stages on which Metallica could not know what, if anything, they should be doing while playing.
For what it's worth, they ran around a lot, particularly James, the grizzled front man, and the only one who really looks capable of sacrificing small animals and using their skins as underwear, or whatever it is that heavy metallers get accused of these days. So they ran around the stage. Then they ran around the other one. At one point, all four of them had magically switched stages. Good job they've got the songs for when you start tiring of all that David Copperfield nonsense.
It feels rather inadequate to just call them songs. They are too big for that. "Blazing vistas of inestimable girth and passion" is probably nearer the mark. Admittedly, a medley of early material betrays less musical innovation than you'd find in one of Peter Andre's pecs. But with their homonymous 1991 album, Metallica discovered something indispensable: tunes. And emotion. When the band ploughed into "Nothing Else Matters", the head- banging hard nut in front of me had trouble keeping his bottom lip in check. Quite right. These songs linger in your ears long after the painful ringing has subsided.
But if Metallica broke most of the rules surrounding the heavy-metal show, there was one they adhered to: that it must all end in flames. It did, in a finale of quite dazzling wit and duplicity that it would be mean to reveal. Suffice to say that it proves Metallica are cleverer than you would ever give them credit forn
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 2 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 3 The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before character like Homer or Lisa
- 4 British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Black-ish: America's new 'racist' TV sitcom has had a mixed reception
Cilla, episode 3, ITV - review: Ed Stoppard steals the limelight as Beatles manager Brian Epstein
The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before character like Homer or Lisa
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'
The Jungle Book: A tale as old as time
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
'Women, walk wherever you want' posters taken down in Stamford Hill following 'unacceptable' signs separating men and women
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >